Jammers work to break down barriers to healthy living

Press release.

Residents, community partners and various government partners gathered for a two-day HealthJam in Guelph May 14 and 15. Hosted by the City of Guelph in collaboration with local, provincial and federal partners, HealthJam 2014 explored how the community can work together to break down barriers and inequalities, co-creating solutions so that all Guelph residents can enjoy good health.

Sixty jammers and mentors gathered each day to discuss the challenges presented before working together to create and test solutions.

After testing their ideas on members of the public, participants presented their solution to a panel of 10 judges who represented diverse community interests and organizations.

Mayor Karen Farbridge opened the event. “HealthJam supports two major initiatives underway in Guelph – Open Government and Guelph Wellbeing,” she said. “More than a consultation session or a flip-chart exercise, HealthJam is about empowering people to be more involved in decision-making, and to use their skills and creativity to help tackle complex challenges like health and wellbeing.”

Concepts presented included providing adult focused outdoor recreational equipment at existing playgrounds and creating a community driven ambassador program and peer mentoring programs to help individuals and families breakdown barriers.

Moving forward, many teams will continue refining their solutions with the added input of others in the community. The City anticipates seeing some of the solutions incorporated in the open government action plan development process and will look to connect some solutions into work underway through Guelph wellbeing.

“I was thrilled with the turnout for HealthJam,” said Mayor Farbridge. “This marks a shift away from the old “vending machine” model of government where people put tax dollars in and got services out. Under this new model, we are making better use of the remarkable resources in our community—government funding and services, community assets and programs, charitable giving and volunteerism, individual action and resourcefulness—to do more with less while improving health and wellbeing for people. I want to thank all participants for their leadership.”

HealthJam is one example of the City’s open government pursuits aimed at strengthening relationships among those that may not have other opportunities to work together, leveraging expertise in a variety of disciplines, and collaborating to solve community challenges for a better Guelph.

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